Karyn has talked about this before — the conundrum you face when you really love a book but eventually have to admit that it’s flawed. I mean, maybe you email your committee about [REDACTED] and they respond politely at first, promising to take a look. But then you keep emailing and eventually someone, someone, has to respond and say, “Sarah, it’s a fun read but what about [REDACTED]? And you know, I had trouble believing [REDACTED]. And the [REDACTED] really just didn’t work, either, and I’m not even going to get into the [REDACTED].”
That’s when personal top five lists can come in really handy; you get to acknowledge — even celebrate — your baggage and then you can try to stuff it back in the closet and refocus on committee work. With that in mind, we figured it’d be a good idea to get this out of our collective systems before getting down to the real work of making a predictions list.
So without further blather, here are my personal, highly subjective, top five favorite reads of 2011:
Anya’s Ghost: I couldn’t quite predict this as a final fiver (although I really wanted to, and compromised by giving it a “maybe?” and not tagging it as a prediction). But Anya is so easy to relate to, Emily is so (ugh, sorry, guys) hauntingly sad, and the art is so, so, SO strong I fell in love. Plus, that post still has my all-time favorite title.
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making: we are furiously writing up our thoughts on this title right now, so you can expect content-filled smart stuff in a few days. In the meantime: This is easily a favorite read from the past year. I had read and loved The Orphan’s Tales a few years ago and am really happy that Girl Who… is just as delicious.
Imaginary Girls: This is another title that we wavered on and ended up not quite being able to commit to a final five prediction. However, it’s definitely got staying power; I still think about Ruby and wonder just how much I can trust Chloe. I still wonder what really happened, and whether or not Olive really does watch from beneath the reservoir.
Scorpio Races: Yummy delicious. Wait, did you want me to write some sentences? Sentences about killer horses from the sea?? Dudes, I already did, and I’m not sure I have any left. So we’ll all have to settle for: fantasy love Thisby yay.
OK. You know after you finish serving on a selection committee? And you think, man, I’m just going to spend some time reading just for me! And anyway you’re going on maternity leave soon, so you just don’t worry about reading young adult literature for a little while — a couple of months can’t hurt, right? Because it’s not like you’re going to be blogging about YA Lit any time soon, amirite? Yeah, laugh with me. My final pick is The Wise Man’s Fear, which I’m justifying in part because it was covered by Adult Books 4 Teens. (OK, so was A Dance With Dragons, which was another possibility, but somehow WMF feels more teen-ish to me, so we’ll go with that one. And how funny that Karyn wrote both of those reviews.) Kvothe’s story is huge — epic — but also human and totally personal and Rothfuss’s treatment of fantasy tropes is breathtakingly, unexpectedly fresh (huh, and so is Martin’s! And actually I’d say the same about Jo Walton’s Among Others, which is also high up on my personal list that has clearly expanded far beyond five titles now, even if I’m trying desperately to pretend I’m only listing five). At any rate. I love the university friendships, the not-quite love story with Denna, and the totally absorbing world building. I can’t wait to see how Kvothe is a king killer, to see what happens with the love story, to find out where this is all heading.
Phew! I’m glad I got that out of my system.
In terms of blog housekeeping — we are finishing up our reviews, Karyn has posted her top five, and next we’ll get down to the nitty gritty — creating a short list, making some predictions, and even more discussion, discussion, discussion. You may want to start polishing your crystal balls.
In the meantime, we’d love to hear what your personal favorites of 2011 are; comments are open!